BHSU President Kay Schallenkamp says the BHSU campus and the entire state will benefit greatly from the proposed high speed REED (Research, Education and Economic Development) Network system that Gov. Michael Rounds announced this week.

“This high speed connection will transform the research possibilities at Black Hills State University and across the state. With research being developed at the Sanford Lab at Homestake, this network enhancement is a crucially needed improvement which will open many opportunities for BHSU and the entire state,” Schallenkamp says.

She noted the system will connect BHSU as well as other state universities to a national research network which will be a huge enhancement to the current system. The state has been working on the possibility of this high-speed data network for some time.

“We’ll go from a 5Mb to a 1Gb connection – which is 200 times faster. That increase in speed creates unlimited opportunities for enhanced research and economic development possibilities. The high speed network will enhance our ability to collaborate with other researchers around the world. This is increasingly important as we become more involved in research at SUSEL as well as other research projects. The potential that this network creates for our researchers and our students is vast and we appreciate the potential this network creates,” Schallenkamp says.

Faculty and researchers on the BHSU campus are already making plans for the enhanced networking system and know that the higher speed network  will also open doors for research and economic opportunities. Dr. Holly Downing, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at BHSU, says that faculty and staff are excited and enthused about the possibilities.

“The REED network is a marvelous resource for this campus. It will greatly increase research capabilities and allow us to stay on the cutting edge with our ongoing science partnerships and enhance the quality of research we do,” Downing says. “We absolutely must have this kind of connectivity to reach our growing activity in research. It will be a wonderful improvement for the state and region.”

BHSU applications of the REED network

Staff members at the Center for the Conservation of Biological Resources at BHSU foresee many benefits including increased data sharing with collaborative research partners, enhanced data analysis, and the ability to transmit and receive lectures, seminars and conferences.

According to Cynthia Anderson, associate director of the CCBR, researchers participate in multiple collaborative activities with scientists at other universities nationwide, some as far away as the University of Washington in Seattle, Wash., and Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. She notes that large files are not now transmittable and that the ability to transmit large data files will facilitate the sharing of data between collaborators.

Many of the data analysis software programs used by CCBR researchers are run on supercomputers housed in various locations across the nation. These data sets are extremely large and the ability to upload and download large data files in seconds will alleviate the problems that can lead to delayed data analysis.

The center is also looking forward to the ability to transmit voice, video and data simultaneously with speed and clarity. Anderson notes this will benefit scientists, undergraduate students and graduate students because students will be able to participate in “live” laboratory sessions from other locations.  Additionally, faculty and students statewide will benefit from the increased ability to participate in shared seminars and conferences that can be broadcast live.

Ben Sayler, director of the Center for the Advancement of

Mathematics and Science Education at BHSU, notes there are many opportunities associated with high speed internet service for the Sanford Lab including online lectures and courses for undergraduates, university faculty, K-12 students, and K-12 teachers. He also notes the importance of videoconferencing capabilities to facilitate national and international collaborations of scientists and students. Other uses may include web cameras for remote tours of the underground lab and access for researchers and students to large quantities of data generated at the Lab.

Steve Babbitt, photography professor at BHSU, says that the opportunities for use of the enhanced network are “limitless.”

“The new network will have a profound impact. Mass communications is all about communicating and this technology provides many opportunities for our students,” Babbitt says.

Babbitt foresees opportunities for students to transmit high volumes of video and still photography which is not currently possible. He also envisions photography and video exhibits transmitted completely online so that students could send an entire exhibit to other galleries.

“Once the connections are made more possibilities will arise. What five years ago would have been unthinkable will now be a reality. Our imaginations are just beginning to comprehend the possibilities,” Babbitt says.